Why Won’t God Just Tell Me What To Do?

That would certainly make things simpler in life, wouldn’t it? Like if there was a blank page at the back of every Bible, and every morning you woke up and there was a personal, hand-tailored message for you from God. Telling you where to eat lunch. Letting you know how to get another job and when it’s going to happen. Informing you of the right choice to make about your relationship.

But it doesn’t work that way. At least not for me. At times, it feels like we are stumbling through the dark, groping along with our hands outstretched in front of us to keep us from bumping into something.

I suppose you could take this as evidence of the absence of God – of His distance. That He is aloof. That the details of life don’t matter that much to Him.

Or you could recognize that this apparent absence is actually evidence of the exact opposite.

Often, the Bible has been called an instruction manual for life. That’s not true. Nowhere in the Bible did I find instructions that I was to marry Jana. That we were to have children and what we should name them. That I should take a job at Lifeway or that we should move to Nashville.

If this is an instruction manual for life, it’s a bit like trying to put together a model airplane using the picture on the box. Sure, you can glean some broad details, but what about how the tiny engine blocks fits inside the frame? Or how the steering apparatus is put together? It’s those little details that are missing.

Thing is, the Bible isn’t an instruction manual for life, and because it’s not, we see that God is not absent from those small details. The Bible is the means by which we might know God in Christ, not primarily the means by which we might figure out the details of our own lives. God is the main character of the Bible; not me. And not you.

One of the characteristics revealed in the pages of Scripture is God’s desire for intimacy with His people. And perhaps that’s exactly the reason why you don’t find blank pages waiting to be filled in on a daily basis. If that were the case, then where would our relationship with God be? We would reduce Him to a cosmic slot machine who spits out answers when we pull the lever. By better understanding all kinds of slot machines we might become closer to god. Some people decide to use an Online casino to improve their understanding.

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Maybe the reason God doesn’t always just tell us what to do in the details is because in this, He’s doing what He does in so many other areas of life: developing intimacy with us. He’s forcing us to talk and listen. To even argue sometimes. But to know Him rather than just His plan.

That, after all, is what eternal life is about: knowing God. Not knowing the answers.

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  • Sarah says:

    I needed to read this today. and yesterday. and probably tomorrow.

    It is so easy to want to know all the answers.

    One of my very wise friends always tells me, “God doesn’t tell us what He’s going to do, He reveals to us who He is.”

    That’s the point. Always.

    And its so easy to lose sight of sometimes.

    Thanks for the reminder today.

  • Rebecca says:

    Excellent! What you have written makes so much sense to me. Thank you for such an insightful post. I know with my relationship with God it does feel like I’m trying to walk in the dark. It’s only when I call out to God in a heartfelt prayer do I feel God is near helping me. It’s a process. I became a Christian when I was 12 at a Christian camp. Only today did I realize that God wants me to open my heart to His love so I can be able to love others. So I opened my heart to His love today for the first time.

  • heather joy says:

    This is an excellent article – much needed at this time in my life.

    My favorite part of the article:
    “…perhaps that’s exactly the reason why you don’t find blank pages waiting to be filled in on a daily basis. If that were the case, then where would our relationship with God be? We would reduce Him to a cosmic slot machine who spits out answers when we pull the lever.
    And you don’t love a slot machine. You USE a slot machine.”

    Thank you. God Bless.

  • Very helpful insight at a time when I am struggling with the purpose of Bible reading and study. I will write down and remember that the Bible is about God, not about me. Thank you.
    I found your page reading a la carte at challies.com

  • MK says:

    Thanks for the kind words and for clicking over to read the whole article, guys.

  • YHVH (G-D) Does give us instructions. We’re too busy debating them, ignoring them, rationalizing why we don’t have to do them. This is the story of the Golden Calf in disguise.

    After being rescued from slavery, being delivered to Mt Horeb to receive the Nine Commandments and One Suggestion, they go and build a golden calf (moo). They name it YHVH (G-D) even Aaron says “These be your gods (Elohim)”. Then they party naked.

    So much for even the Ten Commandments.

    The absence we feel is because we refuse to see HIM in our lives, because we have created other gods to replace HIM. It is entirely our fault we don’t see him.

    Faith is not one foot in front of the other. It is doing the will of our Father even when it looks stupid, silly, wrong or foolish. If G-D tells you to take your son, your only son, and offer him as a sacrifice, would you? Could you? If G-D tell you to go into the land on the report of two, while ten others are saying not to, would you? Could you?

    Would you build a boat for 100 years having never seen enough water that could float it? Or would you simply say “God will provide a way”, and go about your daily lives.

    The Bible is the instruction book for life, but how many people have read it? How many people who claim to believe it and follow it, don’t know the lessons contained within it?

    I dare say, more Christians know about the details of Celebrities and Sports stars lives than they know about what is contained within Scriptures.

    Gotta run, Hockey and NBA playoffs are on.

  • Gerald Van Iwaarden says:

    Good post. We need to remember that the Bible is not a technical manual with specific steps to perform to do life tasks. It is the means by which a Holy God seeks to communicate His redemptive plans and history to those that desire to know Him and be in a relationship with Him through His Son.

    Genesis and Revelation are like book-ends and all the rest is the incredible journey.

  • Where’s the “like” button? 🙂

  • Mary says:

    excellent article! Truly, it’s about serving Him not serving us. Loved the slot machine reference. Too many of us live as if God is our genie in a bottle.

  • MK says:

    Michael – You took the time to comment; I will take the time to respond. First off, I appreciate the great respect and and devotion you have to the Bible. When I say that the Bible is not an instruction book for life, I’m not intending to lessen its role and position in our lives. In fact, I’m seeking to do the opposite.

    To say that the Bible is not an instruction book for life does not mean it does not contain instructions for life. As you have pointed out, there are passages like the 10 Commandments. Or thousands of other passages, Old and New Testament alike. But I would argue that the primary intent of the Bible is not to show us how to live, but to show us who God is.

    God is the starting point. When we approach the Bible primarily asking the question, “How am I supposed to live?” we reveal our belief that we are the center of the universe. We are not. God is.

    The Bible does indeed tell us how to live, but only in light of what it reveals to us about God.

  • Gary Runn says:

    Thanks for the great thoughts-good timing for me and good principles for all to consider!

  • The bible doesn’t tell you how to live everyday life. It does however tell you how to live your life everyday.

    Jos 24:15 KJV – And if it seem evil unto you to serve the YHVH (the LORD), choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the YHVH(the LORD).

    That is the choice we have, each day. I serve the Elohim of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

  • agnes says:

    thanx….i really needed it….

  • Carl says:

    The picture on the box is all there is.

  • well i really dont have much to say but know im going through alor of stress and sadness and i dont know what god is telling me and it seems that he is not listening to me at all. If any of you can pray for me i would appreciate it thank you.

  • Kenneth Gray says:

    If God left me messages I would be so grateful, thankful, that I can’t express how much that would mean to me. No I would not treat God like a slot machine. I personally would find my faith skyrocketing. I am not asking for all the answers, just for one or two answers. I would be overjoyed to get just a Hello once in in this miserable life. Just one audible word. I keep seeing/hearing how God’s silence is His way of bringing us closer to Him. For me the silence is pushing me away from God not drawing me closer. If God wants an intimate relationship with me, this infernal silence isn’t the way. Back and forth (two way) communication is what builds relationships. I think that if God spoke to people, this world wouldn’t be so screwed up. Close contact and conversation is what I want. Silence breeds doubt, doubt kills faith. Interactions with God would be HEAVENLY. How strong faith would be. Thanks for letting me say my piece. God Bless You, in Jesus name, Amen

    Please Lord speak to me!!!!!!

  • Kenneth Gray says:

    I wish that God would tell me what to do. I have been trying to find my God given purpose for a long time. Can’t even count the times I’ve been told that I can find my purpose in the Bible. As far as I can tell, the Bible doesn’t tell us what God wants us to do. Here is what I mean. This is just an example. God wants me to be a preacher. Nothing in the Bible indicates this. How am I to know what God’s wants me to do unless He tells me. This is why I wish God would tell us what to do. If He did, then we would have less conflict in this life. God hasn’t told me what my purpose is. If God doesn’t tell me, then how do I find my God given purpose? Thanks and may God Bless You, in Jesus name, Amen.

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